Lebanon Businessnews News

MEVP invests in two local start-ups
Fund acquires 37 percent stake in Wixel Studios
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Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) has recently concluded four new investments in regional ICT start-ups, including two Lebanon-based firms.

Walid Hanna, managing partner at MEVP said the investments are all series-A, the first round of financing after seed capital: “This type of investment often takes place when a firm is generating some revenue but not profits.” The deals were secured within the past three months.

The two local firms which benefitted from the fund were Wixel Studios and Shahiya.com. “We have bought equity in these firms,” Hanna said. According to Hanna, the investment amount in each firm depends on the evaluation, size, development stage, and expected revenues. “We will probably sell our shares within a maximum period of four to six years,” he said.

The investment in Wixel Studios, an independent developer of games for smart phone and tablet users in the Arab world, was a fifty-fifty undertaking with Berytech Fund. “We invested in the best team of games developers available on the market,” Hanna said. He said Wixel has so far had a successful business track. Wixel Studios are behind online games such as Almaza’s ‘Ihtiyat Wejib’ which was displayed on Facebook, and ‘Douma’, a comic game whose players are local politicians.

The investment in Wixel is a little under $500,000, said Ziad Feghali, Wixel’s co-founder and CEO. “Berytech and MEVP bought 37 percent of our company’s shares” Feghali said. Following the capital injection, Wixel Studios became an SAL. “The firm will restructure its whole business, and shift from the development of online games to mobile applications,” said Feghali. He said the company will develop three new products in less than 18 months.

According to Feghali, the company’s projected sales for the first six months are around $300,000: “Once our new strategy is fully operational, we expect a return on investment for shareholders of up to 3,000 percent.” Wixel was founded by Ziad Feghali, Reine Abbas, and Karim Abi Saleh.

Shahiya.com, a website and mobile application for user-generated Arabic food recipes, will use the fund’s investment to expand its operations. “Shahiya.com is a market leader, according to its daily traffic,” Hanna said. The firm publishes Arabic and English content. The startup was founded by Hala Labaki, Daniel Neuwirth, Carol Makhoul, and Cesar Gemayel.

MEVF also invested in Gate2Play, a Jordan-based e-payment solutions provider, and the Luxury Closet, a UAE-based online market platform offering high-end purses at discounted prices.
Reported by Rana Freifer
Date Posted: Oct 09, 2012
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